Our life of faith is often compared to a running race that we must run through to win the crown of life. Let us think about the mindset we should have to finish the race given to us graciously even to the end.
A Person who Runs a Race
We can see a lot of athletes in sports competitions. Let us think about their efforts that they take to participate in the competitions and to win. They have to be trained day after day without stopping, and they have to control their desires so that they would keep the best condition to improve their skills and to win the race on the day of the competition. They have to control their sleep, their diet, and their physical desires such as their love life, hobbies, meeting family and friends, etc.
Those athletes who take part in the Olympic games must leave their family and friends and stay in a training center for a long time. We can hear the stories of their hardships and difficulties. They have to abstain from their favorite foods and follow the strict diet program prepared by the center to keep their body in shape. They cannot meet their family and friends and they cannot enjoy their hobby. Neither can they take a rest whenever they want, but rather follow the training schedules designed for them all throughout the training session.
Without keeping these rules, they would not have any chance to win the race. There is no shortcuts in a running race. Sometimes we see people who try to use the shortcuts in the competitions and humiliate themselves in the end. We can see many such cases as taking illegal medicines such as steroids to make their muscles strong and hard with not much significant exercise compared to people who do not depend on those pills, but try to build up their muscles by the sweats they shed. Or we can hear about people who try to harness some high-tech but prohibited devices to enhance their performance. Or simply they break the rules blatantly to win the race. But they would be forfeited their medals later when their cheating comes to be known to the public and the fame and honor they have been seeking even in the expense of their honesty would be taken away from them and they would have to wallow in the deep agony after that.
The Spiritual Race We Must Finish
It is the same with the spiritual race that we must run throughout our life of faith. In this spiritual race we must train our body and mind by strictly putting them under the control according to the rules and regulations given to us through the words of God.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
In this spiritual running race, Paul teaches us that we must be thoroughly trained to win the prize, the crown of life. We must have a clear sense of goal and to achieve the goal we must beat ourselves so that we can control our body. We have to abstain from the sinful physical desires that entangle and lead us to failures.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
And also in this race too, we must not cheat or try to find the shortcuts, but follow all the rules and regulations laid out for us to keep. In this race, we must keep the rules in mind by learning them by heart. We must practice according to the rules over and over again so that we can be made perfect to receive the crown.
2 Timothy 2:5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.
Also he says:
1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.
Paul says that we must train ourselves to be godly to win the race and get the crown of life in heaven after finishing this race. The bible says that we would reap what we sow. We cannot spread bad seeds and expect to harvest good crops. In the same way, in this spiritual race we cannot expect that we would reap the godliness after sowing the seeds of desires and sins. For this reason, first we must keep ourselves holy and clean and then spread the good seeds to the world. We cannot enjoy the worldly things while living the life of faith.
1 Timothy 2:4 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.
In this spiritual race, the one that we must please is God and therefore we must not go against the rules by trying to please men or himself.
Those who are Waiting for us to Finish this Race
This race we are running can be compared to a relay race where many members are working as team. Before us many members of our team have been running this race of faith. The first racer was Abel and the baton was given to Noah, later to Abraham, to Moses, to Joshua, etc–just mention a few of them. In a relay race, all the members must work together and none of them must be lacking or break a rule, but finish the race according to the rule to the end by making every effort to win the race. Even though all other members have done exceedingly well, but if one member fails they cannot win the race.
It is the same with the race we are running in our life of faith. Before us, the forefathers of faith have kept their faith and run their part of race and they are waiting now, watching us to see if we would be able to make it to the end. If we fail, the whole race would turn out to be futile and meaningless.
Hebrews 11:39 These (or the forefather of faith such as Noah, Abraham, Moses, those who are mentioned in Hebrews 11) were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
In the plan of God for this race, we are chosen to take the baton for the race from them and we in our turn must finish the race assigned for us. If we fail, the whole race would fail and if we win all of us can win the race and receive the crown of life in heaven. According to the will of God we are chosen as the last runner of the race and by our completion of the race the whole race would be made perfect and complete. That is why the forefathers of faith who already finished the race marked out for them are waiting impatiently, watching us to see if we are running the race well.
As in a relay race, all the runner who finished their race waiting to see the result by watching the race completed by the last runner. When they win, they all run out to the last runner and share the joy together with all the other members.
In the same way, all the runners who covered their parts in this spiritual race are now watching on us to see how we are doing–if we are making efforts, if we keep the rules, if we are worthy to be in this race and finish this race. Let us not let them down.
Keep the Faith to the End
The bible teaches us that we must finish the race to receive the crown of life.
2 Tim 4:6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
When we keep the faith to the end like Paul, the crown of righteousness is waiting for all of us in heaven. In this Age of the Holy Spirit, God came down to this earth and gives us the strength to endure and keep the faith so that we would be able to finish the race. Jesus said, “Take heart because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) God wants us to overcome the world and follow him to the end by keep the faith in him.
Let us trust in Christ Ahnsahnghong and Heavenly Mother New Jerusalem and overcome the world by looking forward to the crown of life in store for us in heaven. All the angels and all the members of the heaven who are intently watching this race will rejoice together when we overcome and finish the race. On that day, we will embrace one another with joyful mind and shout to the heaven the glory of God.